NXT Senators: uphold your commitment to block cuts to PPL

BREAKING: The Nick Xenophon Team are considering breaking their election promise to Fair Agenda members, telling Channel 7 that they cannot rule out supporting cuts to paid parental leave, and that there are "talks planned for the next fortnight."

The NXT hold three critical votes on this issue in the Senate -- which means their votes will decide whether or not the Government can tear precious for tens of thousands of new parents trying to care for their newborns.

We need to make sure the NXT Senators are flooded with messages from the community, letting them know why their commitment to save paid parental leave is so important. 

Can you take a few minutes to call or email the Senators and urge them not to support any cuts to parental leave?

- Senator Xenophon's office on (08) 8232 1144 and senator.xenophon@aph.gov.au
Senator Kakoschke-Moore's office on (08) 8232 0220 and Senator.kakoschke-moore@aph.gov.au
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Senator Stirling Griff's office on (08) 8212 1409 and Senator.Griff@aph.gov.au

 

Click here for tips on what to say in a phone call

Here are some helpful hints on how your call can have a big impact. 

  • Ring ring - A staffer will answer the phone. If you don't get through straight away, wait a moment and then try again.
  • Introduce yourself - Mention who you are, where you live. You may also want to mention what you do (be sure to note if you have any relevant expertise or experience in this area, like working in early childhood or maternal health).
  • Explain the reason for your call - Tell the staffer that you're calling to urge the Nick Xenophon Team to hold to their commitment to vote against *any* cuts to the paid parental leave system. 
  • Share why you care - Share why you cared enough to call. You may want to mention:
    - The impact that parental leave has had in your life, or the life of someone you know. 
    - The importance of NXT's pre-election commitment to Fair Agenda members to vote against any cuts to parental leave. (Available here: http://www.fairagenda.org/scorecard_parentalleave )
    - The complete inadequacy of 18 weeks as a ceiling of leave for women; when health experts recommend 26 weeks should be the minimum period.
    - The fact that modelling shows these cuts would tear precious weeks of care time from workers like nurses, teachers, ambos and Woolies workers (See here)
  • Ask for a commitment - Ask if the Senator will keep their promise to Fair Agenda members to vote against attacks on new parents' time at home. (They may or may not commit, but by asking you will send a clear message that you're serious about holding them to account.)
  • Say thanks! - Thank the staffer for taking the time to listen to you, and ask them to please pass your message onto the Senator.

Once you finish your call please send the Fair Agenda team a quick email at info@fairagenda.org to let us know what response you got, and how your call went.

Click here for a quick refresher on our parental leave system

On the current system: 

  • Experts recommends that 26 weeks is the minimum period of time off work needed for health and welfare benefits to new mothers and newborns.
  • The current government system provides parents with access to 18 weeks of government provided paid parental leave (at the minimum wage), and encourages new parents to top up this leave period with any additional parental leave they have negotiated into their employment contract. This system was specifically designed to allow more parents to be able to take the recommended 26 weeks of postnatal leave.
  • Now the Turnbull government want to cut the paid time at home working parents can access.

What would that mean exactly?

  • Looking at the case study of the impact on a part-time nurse working in Victoria who has negotiated 10 weeks of employer provided leave into their contract after giving birth…
    • Under the current system, they would receive 18 weeks of minimum wage support from the government ($11,826) – topped up by 10 weeks of employer provided care they have negotiated into their contract ($7,200). That comes to a total of $19,026 – or enough for two parents and a newborn to cover living expenses for about 11 weeks.
    • Under what we understand as the government’s proposed new scheme, a nurse with 10 weeks of employer care negotiated into her contract at ($7,200), would have her government support cut down to provide combined support over just 18 weeks. That means government support would be reduced to 8 weeks (at the minimum wage - that’s $5,256). That would leave the new family with just $12,456. That’s enough to cover that family’s expenses for about 7 weeks.
  • The proposal appears to include two other changes, which haven't been explained by the government yet. Those are:
    • Changes that would mean parental leave is included in the income test for social security payments, a change that would mean $105.1 million less for families over the next four years.
    • Altering the current work test to enable more women to be eligible for parental leave. That’s a positive change --  but it shouldn’t be reliant on cutting the tim tens of thousands of other parents have to care for their baby. That’s why it’s critical we let our Senators know we oppose any cuts.

What do the experts say?

  • Given what experts know about how women in Australia know about how women in Australia use parental leave, they expert that the proposed cuts will:
    • prevent more women from spending critical time at home with their new baby;
    • lead to financial duress;
    • reduce the number of women able to afford to stay at home for 26 weeks and thus adversely impact on the health and welfare outcomes of new babies and mothers; and
    • increase demand for childcare for the very young, in a system that is already struggling to keep up with demand.

It's important to remember that any cut to paid parental leave can be expected to also exacerbate childcare accessibility problems. If mums and dads are forced back to work early by this change, we can expect flow on effects to hit the already strained childcare system -- which already has enough problems catering for babies between 6-12 months old.

-Find out more - 

  • Paid parental leave: Government to change proposed offerings, Social Services Minister confirms, ABC, 16 December 2015.
  • MYEFO: Christian Porter finds $36 million to soften double-dipping, The Australian, 16 December 2015.

Any cut to parental leave is bad for the country and bad for families. This is an area we should be expanding support, not taking it away. Let’s not forget that when it first looked at the issue of care time for parents, Australia’s own economic advisory body the Productivity Commission recommended parents should have 26 weeks leave as the minimum time needed off work to provide health and welfare benefits to new mothers and newborns.

Can you help make sure the NXT Senators know their constituents care about this issue?

Once you finish your call please remember to send the Fair Agenda team a quick email at info@fairagenda.org to let us know what response you got.